Time to look into the betting odds for Sunday in the NHL and with football completely out of the way, expect more afternoon games the rest of the season, which is a good thing.
It was another quirky day in hockey Saturday as three of the division leaders that were playing all lost, two at home and Dallas’ win over Washington brought them back into a first place tie in the Central, with Chicago losing on home ice again, which was their third consecutive setback.
Without further ado, here are my three NHL picks for Sunday, starting with top play first.
With New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist a late scratch Friday afternoon, the Rangers defense was not as stout and they lost to Los Angeles 5-4 in OT. The reason given was rest for the netminder, but he is expected to play this evening. New York (31-24 SU) is a different team when their top goalie is in the goal crease, especially at Madison Square Garden, where he and the Rangers are 17-3-2 this season. It is not a coincidence New York has won seven of 10 and Lundqvist and fellow teammates have won four straight, while their last line of defense holds 1.73 goals-against average in 12 starts since Jan. 11.
Philadelphia (24-30 SU) will provide the opposition and the NHL odds have them at +155 at MSG, having lost four of five as they start five-game road trip. Steve Mason is the presumed Flyers goaltender and he faces a Rangers offense which has gotten hot, scoring 3.2 goals a game in their last seven outings. The situation really favors the Blueshirts who are 21-5 off a one goal loss at home and a busy Philly squad is 0-8 in road games when playing their eighth time in 14 days the last two seasons.
Free Pick – New York wins
This afternoon we have an Original Six showdown with two clubs battling for second place in the Atlantic Division, both trying to close the gap on first place Florida. After suffering one of their most defeats ever, Boston (30-25 SU) did not sulk after 9-2 beatdown to Los Angeles at home Tuesday and has gone out and opened up six-game road excursion to with a pair of victories. This is different kind of Bruins squad which is failing in Bean-Town but tough to beat away from home at 18-8 SU, which is second only to Washington for best road record.
As has been mentioned frequently here, the NHL has a number of matchups which might not win every time, but they do so frequently. With Boston riding a six-game road winning streak and having won 10 of 11 over Detroit (playoffs included), why wouldn’t they be an appealing choice at +125.
Free Pick – Boston wins
This matchup fits almost the same criteria as written above in this early afternoon matinee in upstate New York. Colorado (29-29 SU) like Boston has a stronger reputation for being better at a mile high than closer to sea level. Yet this Avalanche crew is 17-12 away from the Pepsi Center and goes after three-game road sweep today in Buffalo (22-34 SU).
The Sabres defeated Montreal 6-4 on Friday when Canadiens goaltenders could not have stopped a beach ball let alone a puck. However, Colorado has assembled two stellar one goal wins over Ottawa and Detroit and they have won 10 in a row over Buffalo. If you are a fan of the Sabres, you would like to imagine they would have some spunk, but they are 10-19 in their own building this season and they are sickly 0-8 after a home triumph this season. Backing Colorado at -115 makes the most sense.
Free Pick – Colorado wins